By: Allison Tsai for Dental1
The pursuit of an ever-bright and painfully white smile may not be over for the tooth-obsessed, but according to a new review of research, at-home teeth whitening kits are a viable option that will whiten and brighten without chipping away at your wallet. The downfall is that they may not be effective in the long term.
|According to the American Dental Association, some discoloration bleaches better than others.|
Yellowish hues bleach well.
Brownish hues bleach less well.
Gray hues may not bleach at all.
Bonding or tooth colored fillings in front of the tooth may also not whiten.
Fresh strawberries and sage are natural tooth whiteners.
The review, lead by Hana Hasson, an associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, examined 25 existing studies of at-home tooth whitening gels and strips. Other patients received placebos for comparison. The results showed the products did make teeth whiter, especially strips containing 5.5 to 6.5 percent hydrogen peroxide, a finding that supports what many dental care professionals tell their patients.
“I say try the at-home whiteners first,” said Laurie Smith, a registered dental hygienist in Alexandria, Virginia, “and if they don’t get the results they want, I tell them to go get it done professionally.”
The difference between professional and drug store whiteners is found in the concentration of hydrogen peroxide, said Smith, not to mention the price tag. “The cost can range between $500 and $1,000 depending on the way it’s done. A zoom bleaching is done in one appointment and costs more, but a regular tray bleaching will get you the same results,” she said. Both use a much higher hydrogen peroxide concentration because the bleaching is supervised. At home kits cost about $30 dollars for 28 strips, a two-week course.
For those looking for a quick fix, however, Smith says at-home whiteners are cost-effective. “To reach optimal results you have to go to a dental professional, but at-home whiteners are a good way to remove light stains without paying a fortune.”
If longevity is a concern, data for over-the-counter whiteners is inconclusive. According to the review, most of the studies only tracked patients for two to four weeks after the whitening. Results could also vary based on personal habits, said Smith.
“Smoking, drinking wine, coffee, and soda all affect the brightness of a person’s teeth.” Other things to consider when whitening from home are side effects. The review listed tooth-sensitivity and gum irritation as possible issues.
“Two applications a day makes my teeth too sensitive,” said Mary Colleen Roszkowski, an avid at-home tooth whitener. “To avoid that, I use them once or twice a week or when I see the white fading.”
Though Roszkowksi isn’t a consistent user, she still says her teeth stay white for a month or two. She says she likes the results of her method and doesn’t feel the need to take it to the next level, a sentiment reflected by many over-the-counter whitener consumers.
“Whenever I use the strips, I feel satisfied,” she said. A professional whitening, however, could last years, said Smith, with touch-up trays about every six months.
“It all depends on what the patient is looking to achieve,” said Smith. “If they want optimal results they need to go to a dental professional, but if they just want to brighten their smile, over-the-counter products are effective.”